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Claire Ptak’s sweet Easter treats recipes | Life and style


I feel like I’m always trying to make the case for hot cakes – well, warm at least when they are at their most fragrant and tender, served with cream, Greek yogurt or crème fraîche. Each recipe would work well alongside your Easter lunch, keeping you cosy inside while looking out at that inevitable spring rain.

Rhubarb is one of the only spring fruits, so I love to look to the tropics at this time of year for a little variety: passionfruit, papaya, tonka, vanilla and coconut. I sliced my hand open trying to prize the meat from a young coconut while testing these recipes, so to spare you a trip to A&E I have opted for coconut flakes in my tropical twist on a hot cross bun.

Papaya is usually seen on the breakfast table, but this is a shame. It’s perfect for pavlova with a slightly tart crème fraîche cream. The chocolate fondant cake is the most incredible recipe that takes 30 minutes from start to finish. It’s flourless, too, so it’s good for Passover. I use tonka, but vanilla works just as well.

Papaya pavlovas

The best papaya are the ripe larger, long ones you often find split in half. Makes 6

For the meringues:
eggwhites 3
salt ¼ tsp
vanilla extract 1 tbsp
white caster sugar 200g
For the cream and fruit topping:
double cream 200ml
crème fraîche 100ml
papaya ½ a long one
limes 2, juice and zest
honey 100g, runny

Preheat the oven to 110C/gas mark ¼. Line a tray with baking paper.

With an electric mixer, beat the eggwhites, salt and vanilla on a high speed until soft peaks form.

Whisk half of the sugar into the eggwhites. Whisk until very stiff and then add the remaining sugar mixture. Whisk until smooth and glossy.

Use two large spoons to portion out the batter about 4cm apart on to the prepared baking sheet, making a depression in the centre of each one with the back of the spoon. Bake for about 2 hours. Remove from the oven. Transfer the meringues off the baking tray and on to a cooling rack right away to cool completely.

Remove the seeds from the middle of the papaya and turn over so the hollow part is facing down. Using a paring knife or peeler, remove the skin from the papaya. Slice into 12 half moons. Zest the limes into a bowl and set aside.

Whip the cream and crème fraîche together to soft peaks.

Place the meringues on to individual plates and cover with a couple of slices of papaya and a generous squeeze of lime. Spoon a large dollop of cream on top of the papaya and drizzle with about 1 tbsp of honey and sprinkle some zest over the top to finish. Serve right away.

Chocolate fondant cake





‘A miracle’: chocolate fondant cake.



‘A miracle’: chocolate fondant cake. Photograph: Romas Foord/The Observer

This cake is a miracle. It takes minutes to prepare, minutes to bake and is so rich and decadent it really impresses friends.

unsalted butter 175g
dark chocolate 300g, 70-75% cocoa solids
tonka bean ½, grated (or use vanilla bean)
fine sea salt ¼ tsp
cocoa powder 100g
eggwhites 6
caster sugar 150g, plus 1 tbsp for the top
crème fraîche to serve

Heat the oven to 200C/gas mark 6. Grease and line a 20cm loose-bottom or spring-form cake tin with parchment paper.

Melt the chocolate and butter with the salt and grated tonka bean in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water. Stir occasionally, but not vigorously. Once the butter and chocolate has melted, remove the pan from the heat and allow it to cool briefly in a draught-free area. Slowly whisk in the sifted cocoa powder.

In an electric stand mixer, whip the eggwhites and sugar together until soft glossy peaks form. Fold the eggwhites into the melted chocolate mixture until just combined; there should be a slight marble effect.

Pour the mixture into your prepared cake tin and sprinkle with 1 tbsp of caster sugar before baking.

Bake for 10 minutes; note that the cake will still be a little wobbly when you remove it from the oven.

Allow the cake to cool for 10 minutes then turn out on to a serving plate. When plating, you can use a serving spoon or a cake slice – the scoops or slices won’t be perfect as the cake has a gooey texture. Serve immediately with crème fraîche.

Passionfruit pound cake





In for a penny: passionfruit pound cake.



In for a penny: passionfruit pound cake. Photograph: Romas Foord/The Observer

Seek out heavier, plump-looking fruit for the most juice and pulp inside. It’s good warm, but also keeps well for days.

For the cake:
unsalted butter 250g softened, plus more for greasing the tin
golden caster sugar 250g
eggs 4
Greek yogurt 220g
oranges 2, zest and juice
passionfruit 4, pulp and seeds
plain flour 500g
baking powder 1 ½ tsp
bicarbonate of soda 1 tsp
vanilla bean paste 1 tsp
salt ½ tsp

For the drizzle:
passionfruit juice of 2, seeds sieved
icing sugar 150g

Preheat the oven to 170C/gas mark 3, and grease and line a 900g loaf tin with parchment paper and set aside (a standard 900g loaf tin is around 23 x 13 x 7cm).

Use an electric stand mixer or handheld mixer to beat the butter and sugar together until light and creamy. Add the orange zest and juice, the passionfruit and the vanilla paste. Beat until combined.

Add the eggs one at a time and mix until incorporated, then fold in the yogurt.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, bicarb and salt. Add half of this to the egg mixture and fold and then add the remaining flour and fold in again until combined.

Pour the mixture into your prepared tin and bake for 45-50 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.

Allow the cake to cool in the tin for 15 minutes before removing from the pan and transferring to a serving plate.

Prepare the drizzle by whisking the passionfruit juice and icing sugar together until smooth. Spoon the drizzle all over the top of the cake and allow it to drip down the sides. Serve straight away with Greek yogurt or allow to cool before storing in an airtight container.

Iced coconut buns





Oven-fresh: iced coconut buns.



Oven-fresh: iced coconut buns. Photograph: Romas Foord/The Observer

Amazing warm, fresh out of the oven, their glaze melting in your mouth. Makes 12 buns

For the pre-ferment:
coconut milk 200g
active dry yeast 7g (1 sachet)
strong white bread flour 100g
strong wholemeal bread flour 100g

For the dough:
large eggs 3
coconut milk 150g
strong white bread flour 200g
strong wheat flour 200g
coconut palm sugar 4 tbsp
sea salt 1 ½ tsp
active dry yeast 14g (2 sachets)
unsalted butter 125g cold, cubed
coconut flakes 125g

For the egg wash:
egg 1
cream or milk 2 tbsp

For the glaze:
coconut milk 50g
icing sugar 250g
desiccated coconut to sprinkle

Line 1 or 2 trays with baking parchment, depending on how many you make.

Combine all the ingredients for the pre-ferment in a standing electric mixer and beat until smooth with the dough hook attachment. If you don’t have a standing mixer, mix with a wooden spoon. Once it is smooth, let it rest for half an hour.

While the pre-ferment is resting, weigh out all the ingredients for the brioche dough except the butter. Whisk together the eggs and coconut milk in one bowl and, in a separate bowl, whisk together the bread flour, sugar, salt and yeast.

Remove the pre-ferment from the fridge and gradually add the wet and dry dough ingredients to the pre-ferment mixture until combined and smooth.

Let the mixture rest for 20 minutes then add the butter and mix until smooth. Mix in the coconut flakes. Put the dough in an airtight container and put in your freezer for 2 hours, or refrigerate overnight.

Preheat the oven to 180C/gas mark 4. Divide the dough into 12 even pieces and shape each into a small ball. Place on to your lined baking tray with a little space between them.

Cover with a clean cloth or a loose sheet of cling film and leave to rest in a warm place for an hour and a half. Make the egg wash by whisking together the eggs and cream or milk, then gently brush it on the risen buns. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until golden.

While the buns are baking, whisk together the icing sugar and coconut milk for the glaze, until smooth. Dip the tops of the buns into the icing and place on a serving platter. Sprinkle with the desiccated coconut after every few dips before the icing hardens so that it will stick. Serve right away or within a day.

Claire Ptak is a chef, author and owner of Violet Bakery (@violetcakeslondon)



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